4/27/2010 2:45:00 PM Letter: Vote 'yes' on Proposition 100
To the editor:
Several people have asked my office for factual information about the "general dollar amount" of losses to Yavapai County school districts if the one-cent sales tax referral, Proposition 100, does not pass.
Providing exact numbers is somewhat difficult since districts are allocated funds based on a rather complicated formula. Each district has unique demographics, such as the number of students it serves, what grade level those students are in, how many students require specialized services, the experience of their teachers, the programs the school offers, and even the number of miles their buses travel.
The highly respected Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) has published the following independent estimate for each district in Yavapai County. This is a very good general estimate of potential loss. Ash Fork Joint Unified School District could lose $171,844 and Seligman Unified School District could lose $104,075.
It is important to keep a historical perspective when considering the implications of Proposition 100. If voters reject this proposal, the projected cuts will amount to approximately 10-12 percent of the current year budget, and will be in addition to reductions of 12 percent to 19 percent already sustained by districts over the last three years. Needless to say, additional cuts will be deep and profound. The entire educational system in Arizona will be impacted for years to come. To be prepared for the success or failure of Proposition 100, most districts have created two separate budgets that address the different scenarios. Based on the specifics of the proposed budgets, you will be able to determine the direct impact of the election on the children in your community. Please contact your local school district to obtain information about their individual budget plans and see for yourself.
Up to this point, districts have attempted to make cuts that least impact instruction and academic performance. Sustaining increased cuts, if Proposition 100 is not successful, will directly impact students. For example, no one who supports a comprehensive education for our youth wants to make cuts to such valuable elective programs as physical education, art, vocal and instrumental music, drama, interscholastic athletics, or other extra-curricular or co-curricular activities. When faced with the significance of these potential cuts, local governing boards have no choice but to maintain the instructional programs required by federal and state statute and those established by the Arizona State Board of Education.
They have taken an oath, as I have, to follow the law. Districts are being forced to eliminate programs that we absolutely know are good for students. By necessity, the "fiscal pie" is getting smaller and smaller. Reductions still have to be made. These are extremely difficult times and require very disturbing and unpleasant decisions. Eliminating programs that are not required by law may not be a choice. It may be the only reasonable option. In governing board meetings all over Yavapai County, educational choices are constrained by the financial facts in front of us. A defeat of Proposition 100, will insure that direct services to students are reduced or eliminated. It has come to that.
Arizona's future is at risk when our children are in peril. As an elected official, I believe there is a responsibility to tell the public where we stand on issues of significant importance within our own jurisdictions. As a life-long educator and as a fiscal conservative, I believe society has a moral obligation to provide quality education to all of our young people. It is imperative that we support our schools, teachers, unpaid elected governing boards, and most importantly, our students.
What we do now is extremely important. I will vote yes on Proposition 100.